Seldom do I feel the need to repeat a recipe, but this is critical. I have become aware that some of my favorite people haven’t seen this recipe, which I posted HERE eons ago. And, I have had yet a few other favorite people repeat that they are afraid of baking bread, especially if it involves yeast. You know who you are. This can’t go on. It is a travesty, on both counts.
Travesty might be a strong word. But this is a formula that I use constantly. It is one of those recipes on this site that gets a weekly workout. So over the past two-and-a-half years since I posted it, my method has been refined. I’m better at it than I was when I first introduced it. The bread is prettier. (My photos are a bit better, too.) And I think my way of preparing it is better now. It is essentially the same recipe and a similar process, but instead of posting updates on an old, unattractive post, I’ve decided to call a do-over. Because, I can.
This is not my original thought, though. This recipe is heavily inspired from the work of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Jim Lahey’s bread recipe. Those who have read the books will know exactly where I drop off from one and pick up on the other. Plus, there are little methods that I’ve created because they work better for me. For instance, this is a very wet dough, so after it is formed and rises it is hard to move it to the oven without thoroughly messing it up and deflating it. So, I form it and let it rise on a floured piece of parchment and then move the dough, parchment and all, to the oven. During baking it comes unstuck from the parchment. No harm, no foul.
The gist of this is that it takes virtually no effort. This is “no-knead” bread. You mix it in a bucket. It makes enough dough for three to four loaves and can sit in the refrigerator (hence the name) for a week. I use a restaurant food storage bucket for mine and I have written the recipe on the side so that I don’t have to scrounge for it every time. I just throw the bucket on the kitchen scale, zero out the scale, pour in 2 pounds of bread flour, toss everything else in and mix it up to a gloppy, messy dough. It takes approximately 5 minutes from start to finish. And for this, you get three gorgeous loaves of bread throughout the week. But, you can use any container that is large enough and that you don’t mind having out of service for a week at a time.
I use King Arthur Bread Flour for this recipe. Special tools that make this a snap: Kitchen Scale and an Instant Read Thermometer.
|Refrigerator Bread, Again and Again|| |
- 32 ounces bread flour
- ½ ounce active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 cups warm water
- Weigh the bread flour and add it to a large container. Mix the yeast and salt into the flour. Finally, add the water and use a large sturdy spoon to stir the dough until it is completely moistened. Set the container on the counter and leave it to sit at room temperature for two hours. Then, place the container in the refrigerator. It should stay in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours before proceeding with the baking procedure, and may stay in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- To bake a loaf of bread, remove the container from the refrigerator and reach into the container and pull out roughly a third of the dough. This is best done with amply floured hands. Shape the dough into a ball by folding it over onto itself a few times and sealing any seams by pinching. Use additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface and hands. Place the ball on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Allow the ball of dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a heat proof dutch oven inside the oven to warm at the same time (Make sure the pot is oven safe and that all of its fittings and handles are oven safe before doing this). When the dough has risen, CAREFULLY pull the oven rack out and remove the lid from the pot. Or, remove the Dutch oven to a HEATPROOF surface and remove the lid. Cut a ¼" slit in the top of the bread with a very sharp knife. Gently drop the dough (still attached to the parchment) into the dutch oven. Spray 3 squirts of water mist into the pot with a mist bottle and quickly replace the lid. REMEMBER THE POT AND LID ARE 475 DEGREES.
- Quickly, place the pot back into the oven and allow the bread to bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove the lid from the pot and allow the bread to continue to bake for another 10 minutes. At this point, check the bread for doneness by rolling the loaf over with a spatula or using a gloved hand and piercing it through the bottom with an instant read thermometer. If it registers 200 degrees, the bread is fully baked. Remove it to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely. If it is not fully baked, continue to bake in 5 minute increments until it reaches 200 degrees.
Note: Listen to the bread crackle as it cools. It is a wonderful sound. Also, as tempting as hot bread is, the cooling process is important…so don’t cut right into it.
But, most importantly, if you missed this recipe the first time around, or if you thought it was too hard to make BREAD…I implore you to give it a try.